A secular umbrella

Secularism is an important framework in which people of different religious beliefs and none can live together on an equal footing. Campaigning for secularism is one issue that religious and non-religious people can collaborate on.

One aspect of secularism is the clear separation between religion and politics, between matters of faith and affairs of the state. To say that the State has no religion does not mean that the State is anti-religion or for example that pupils cannot learn about different religions and belief in school. The word ‘secular’ is often wrongly taken to mean the opposite of ‘religious.’ However, if anything, the opposite of secular is communal, while the opposite of the word religious is atheist.

The O Project will be working to promote the idea of an inclusive secular vision.

Find out more

  • Read Hamish MacPherson’s article Faith No More? which describes secularism as a condition for dialogue


There are many religious as well as atheist secularist organisations.

Atheist secularists

  • The National Secular Society is a UK organisation that campaigns for the secularisation of British institutions to ensure that no religious ideology can dominate and discriminate against others. www.secularism.org.uk
  • The British Humanist Association represents the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned but non-religious people in the UK. It works for an open and inclusive society with freedom of belief and speech, and for an end to the privileged position of religion – and Christianity in particular – in law, education, broadcasting and wherever else it occurs. www.humanism.org.uk
  • Secular Coalition for America aims to increase the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints in the United States and to protect and strengthen the secular character of the American government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. www.secular.org
  • Freedom from Religion Foundation is an American association of nontheists that has been working since 1978 to promote freethought and defend the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church. ffrf.org

Muslim secularists

  • American Islamic Forum for Democracy seeks to make a small contribution to the body of thought which articulates an understanding of Islam which separates religion and state aifdemocracy.org
  • British Muslims for Secular Democracy is made up of a group of Muslim democrats of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, who support a clear separation between religion and the state. bmsd.org.uk
  • Progressive Dawoodi Bohras (Dawoodi Bohras are he main branch of the Bohras, a subsect of Ismâ’îlî Shî’a Islâm) argue that Islam is not incompatible to secularism if it does not mean rejection of religious faith. www.dawoodi-bohras.com
  • The Secular Islam Summit brings together secular Muslims and secularists from majority Muslim countries to generate and share new practical strategies and disseminate these to the public and opinion-makers worldwide. www.secularislam.org
  • Muslims for Secular Democracy is an Indian organisation committed to the ideals of the Indian Constitution: secularism, democracy, pluralism. www.mfsd.org

Christian secularists

  • Catholics for Free Choice serves as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health. They recently teamed up with secularists in a joint initiative advocating for the importance of upholding secular values as the European Union re-embarks on the constitution-writing process. www.catholicsforchoice.org
  • Ekklesia is an independent, not-for-profit think-tank which examines the role of religion in public life and advocates transformative theological ideas and solutions. It argues against the privileging of religious interests in governance and public life. It is currently engaged in a research project with a number of overlapping elements, including cooperation with academic and civic bodies, looking at the development of an inclusive vision of secularity in the public square – one which creates space and a level playing field for the widest range of protagonists, both religious and non-religious. www.ekklesia.co.uk
  • Unitarian Christians believe that one’s personal moral convictions will guide their political activities and a secular society is the most viable, just and fair society. www.unitarian.org.uk

Jewish secularists

  • The Jewish Socialist Group, as secularists, recognise that people express Jewish identity in different ways. They support pluralism in Jewish life and within that framework they work especially to strengthen progressive, secular Jewish identities. www.jewishsocialist.org.uk

Multifaith secularists

  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State protects separation of church and state by working on a wide range of pressing political and social issues. It is a non-sectarian, non-partisan organisation whose membership includes Christians, Jews, Buddhists, people with no religious affiliation and others. Democrats, Republicans and independents have joined their ranks. www.au.org
  • Non-Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI) is a US based collective of Hindu, Muslim and Christian Non-Resident Indians campaigning for secularism and social justice in India. nrisahi.ektaonline.org
  • Unitarian Universalism has historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions and is a liberal religion, keeping an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places. They believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. www.uua.org

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